Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Meeting My Inspiration, Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee!

Me and my inspiration, Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee!

This medical school journey is just full of surprises! This past Friday, I had the amazing experience of not only meeting Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee, but I was given the incredible opportunity to introduce her to my school! If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, then you already know she has been a huge inspiration to me. I not only did a previous blog post on her almost two years ago for my “Minority Women in Medicine” section (SEE HERE), but I also quoted her in my personal statement for my medical school applications (which can be found HERE). So this should give you a pretty good idea of how much of an influence she has had on me. I also had the chance to attend a Champions of Healthcare gala Friday night where she was the keynote speaker, and one of my schoolmates took my daughter for the weekend so that I could attend the event and focus on studying for my final Cardio-Pulmonary-Renal exam yesterday (glad it’s over!), so it was a very happy weekend indeed!

For those of you who do not know who Dr. Ross-Lee is, she not only is an osteopathic physician, but she was the first African-American woman to become dean of a United States medical school. Her list of other accomplishments would be too much to mention in one blog post, but there are links included in the previous post I wrote about her if you would like to know more. She is also the sister of the legendary singer Diana Ross, and the aunt of actress Tracee Ellis Ross, for those of you who see some resemblance, lol.

Introducing her to my school was a special moment for me because I originally met Dr. Ross-Lee in 2008 as a pre-medical student attending the SNMA national conference in NYC. It was at this conference where I was first introduced to osteopathic medicine, and where she said something that has always stuck with me: "qualifications are a measure of opportunity and not of worth." This was the quote that I used in my personal statement, and it was also what gave me the push to continue to pursue medicine. As someone who applied to medical school as an extreme underdog with both a low undergraduate GPA AND low MCAT scores, it was easy at times to feel like I wasn’t worthy enough to get into medical school and pursue my dreams when I was going through the process. When she said this, it let me know that my dreams were worth something, and that I had to continue to fight for what I wanted. So for me, it's not only crazy, but a complete blessing that, 7 years later, I was able to walk up as a current medical student and current SNMA President of my school to introduce this extremely phenomenal woman.

It’s moments like this that let me know I am on the right path and that everything really does happen for a reason. I couldn’t understand the process when I was going through it (and I still have moments like this), but when everything starts to fall into place that’s when I realize how truly perfect God’s plan is.

One of my major goals is to one day be an inspiration and impact lives the way that she and so many individuals in healthcare and other fields have done for me, but I know I still have a long way to go. To my pre-medical readers, I hope this post will inspire you to not give up on the path toward reaching your goals despite any obstacles you may encounter. To my medical student readers, I hope you will look at this post to see the importance of inspiring and uplifting those around you, and to my healthcare readers, this post is my way of saying thank you for being an inspiration to us all!   

White Coat: Evening Edition

White Coats, Black (future) Doctors...I love my GA-PCOM SNMA Crew!

Had a great time attending the 2nd annual GA-PCOM Champions of Healthcare Gala

Happiness is when your friend takes your child for the weekend and brings her back with her hair fully done! #YouDaRealMVP

Monday, October 19, 2015

Involved Single Mother in Medical School? Who's Watching Your Daughter???

My daughter helping my group with community service this past weekend

I am a single mother to two toddlers. I am not in medical school, yet, as I still have to officially finish my bachelor degree (this is my last semester) and then finish up my prerequisites to medical school. But, I notice you have so many pictures of having a night on the town or taking a trip for a conference. I do not have any free time. I realize my kids are still really young and I hope it gets better when they actually begin school.

My question is: Who do you have watch your daughter when you go out with friends or go to a conference? Do you have a nanny or is there a different option you have found to care for your daughter? I would just like to have a more balanced academic/family/social life like you seem to have, so any advice you have will be appreciated.

I love your blog! :)

This was a comment someone wrote a while ago that I thought would make for a great blog post. While I usually make it a point to write about where my daughter is when I’m doing certain things, I never realized how to new readers, or someone just scrolling through my posts, that it might look a little odd that I’m able to be involved with so many different things as a single mother. The purpose of this post will be to give a little more insight into how I am able to deal with a child, medical school, and the million other things that I have going on in my life.

The biggest benefit I have over some of my peers with children is the fact that my daughter is a lot older. She’ll be turning nine next month and is pretty independent. She’s in school at the same time I am in school, studies when I do, and if I get caught up in studying, she will either remind me that I need to cook or help her with something.  When she was a toddler, I was trying to make it through my undergraduate courses, while working at least two jobs, so it felt like I had no life at all. I was also very wary about having people watch her because she wasn’t old enough to tell me if anything bad were to happen, and I really couldn’t afford babysitters to begin with, especially when I was paying expensive weekly daycare fees (after care is way cheaper!).

Nowadays, things are definitely a lot different. You know that saying “it takes a village to raise a child”? Well, now that I am in medical school, that saying could not be even truer! My classmates and peers at my school have been a major help in allowing me to take care of business while raising a child from the very beginning of my first year. Last year, when we had mock anatomy lab exams in the evenings, one of my classmates would allow me to drop my daughter off at her place so that I could go take the exam without issues. And whenever I wanted to go out for an evening or just have some time to myself another classmate would watch my daughter. The same pretty much applies to this year, and I’m pretty sure at least half my class has either watched or interacted with my daughter at one point or another, lol. When my entire group wants to get together for a night on the town (usually to celebrate birthdays), I use care.com (such a lifesaver!). I was actually really lucky this year, because the current babysitter I use actually sent me a message with my daughter’s name (completely freaking me out), and then it turned out that my child was in the same class as her son last year, and we had already met multiple times. So now when I do need a sitter, my daughter gets the benefit of hanging out with one of her classmates :-)

So, no, I do not have a nanny, and I try to avoid paying for babysitting whenever I can, even if this means having to bring her to an event with me (if I feel it is child-appropriate). The crazy thing is that I just realized this year that a masters student I’ve been friends with on-campus has a daughter who is the same age and has the same personality as my daughter. Since we’re both single parents, we’ve been switching weekends with the kids and it’s been great! Labor Day weekend, my daughter had the chance to have her new friend stay over the entire weekend, and when I needed to go to Duke University School of Medicine for the SNMA NLI, my daughter spent that weekend over their house. It’s pretty much a win-win situation for everyone involved.

As for next year when I start rotations, I’m not sure how I am going to do things. We will be ranking our desired rotation spots sometime next month and then hopefully before Christmas, I will find out where I will be next year. Right now, I am considering an anchor location where I would be in one place for at least all of next year, as opposed to the floating “J-track” where I would pretty much be in a different place around Atlanta (up to 2 hours away) every month, but I really don’t know. Either way, I may end up requesting a cost of attendance increase so that I can get a nanny during my rotation times, but all of that is up in the air until I find out where I’ll be next year.
But to make a long post short, life as a single parent definitely gets better as your children get older. I’m sure I’ll be biting my words when my daughter hits her teenage years, but that’s when I’ll be busy with residency, and boarding schools might be an excellent option at that point. For me, it’s really important to have a balance between school, family, and a social life, or I would probably be completely miserable. I couldn’t do half of what I do if I didn’t have such wonderful peers and a daughter who really wants to see her mommy succeed. I also have an awesome family, and even though they’re 6 hours away, they don’t mind watching the little one over the summer or during some of her longer holidays. It’s a lot easier for me to be away from my child for conferences and such because I realize that everything I do will eventually make her life better one day, but I understand that other parents might not feel the same way. There are always going to be times when it gets tough, but as long as my child is happy and thriving, and I’m succeeding in my goals, then I’ll continue to balance it all and find a way to make it work.  

Sunday, October 11, 2015

It’s All in God’s Hands

Happy Sunday!!!! Today seems super fitting for this post :-) Most of you reading this know that I stay pretty busy balancing just about any and everything, but even though it seems like I always have everything under control, there are plenty of times when I feel super overwhelmed and just want to retreat and hide away from the world. For most of the month of September I felt this way, but I was too busy to really focus on it (not sure if that’s a good thing or not, lol). The funny thing is that when I tried to tell people this, they didn’t believe me because I didn’t “look” like anything was wrong with me and I was still handling everything without any issues. Looking back I was pretty much just stressing out for no reason at all, but it still would have been nice to sulk and have someone be my support for a change instead of the other way around.

Anyway, this past week I attended a Christian Medical & Dental Association (CMDA) meeting, and it gave me just what I needed to get back into focus. I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this on the blog, but my absolute favorite bible verse comes from Philippians 4:6-7. It’s what I read before every exam, whenever I feel stressed, and during times when I start to doubt myself. I bring this up because it’s rare that I’m able to attend CMDA meetings (because they usually conflict with other organization meetings that I serve as officer in) and at the start of the meeting a paper was passed out, and my favorite scripture was at the very top of the page! The topic of discussion was “How to Counter Negative Self-Talk”, and it was exactly what I needed to hear because sometimes I can be my own biggest enemy.

In medical school especially, it’s easy to feel like you’re not good enough to be there or that you might fail, but at the end of the day it is important to remember who is ultimately in charge. Although I know that it is possible for us to give ourselves more than we can bear, I know that God will not. My main priority is to work hard and continue to develop my gifts so that I can contribute to the world and one day be a blessing to others. I know that the road won’t always be an easy one, but knowing that I am working towards my calling, and that giving up is the only way I can truly fail, helps me push through. For me, it is important to always keep in mind that everything lies in God’s hands, so I will continue to work hard and let everything else fall in place.

I posted the above picture with bible verses as a reminder to myself to remain positive whenever I start to feel the negativity creep in, but I hope it helps some of you in the same way it has helped me :-)  

Random pic, but I looked really cute on Friday, LOL!

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